♪ more yen selling. the u.s. dollar is rising further against the japanese currency on the foreign exchange market. the dollar has risen to the 85-yen level for the first time in 20 months. investors are selling yen on the tokyo foreign exchange on speculation policy makers at the bank of japan will agree to an inflation target proposed by the incoming administration. the new prime minister shinzo abe will take up office later in the day. analysts say the b.o.j. will likely further boost its
monetary easing measures. the dollar is currently trading at 85.26-31 yen. ai uchida joins us now from the business desk for more on that. so ai, investors have been trading the dollar-yen quite dramatically over the last several weeks. >> that's right, catherine. just a month and a half ago that pair was trading in the mid 79-yen range. almost six whole yen weaker in just six weeks. a dramatic move indeed. so going forward, what can we expect? well, we spoke to disaburo nezo for his outlook. he is a senior executive fellow at fujitsu research institute. >> the yen's future is not so much the weakening but rather i think there would be se counterbalance. that is, already yen current rate, 85 yen per one dollar, is rather reasonable level. i think the japanese exporters
have been worrying and saying that yen has been too expensive but probably i think most japanese businesspeople are more or less agree that current level of 85 is rather reasonable level even from their viewpoint. now, we have to be mindful that there are some negative effects about keeping the japanese yen cheap because japan is already importing huge volume of energy, raw materials, and all of them become more expensive in yen. and that will soon have some negative effect on the part of the japanese consumers. so i think those -- when we put all those things tother, think probably the reasonable outlook is that the japanese yen
will continue to weaken but not in such a dramatic way as we have seen in the past few days. but rather very slowly. well, let's get a check on stocks. tokyo's nikkei average is extending gains from yesterday following the yen's weakness. it's currently trading at 10,149, a gain of 2/3 of a percent from tuesday's close. investors are placing buy orders particularly on exporters as the yen is losing ground. they expect earnings for exporters may pick up. now, toyota motor has launched a redesigned crown, one of its signature models. the auto maker aims to attract japanese car owners who are thinking about replacing their current vehicles. ♪ strangers in the night ♪ exchanging glances it's the 14th restyling of the crown. a high-end model that was first released back in 1955.
the new crown features drastic changes in design such as a large front grill. it has a conservative image and targets relatively older drivers and corporate customers. but toyota hopes that the new design will attract younger customers as well. >> translator: in a country like japan, where the population is shrinking, it's more important to encourage car owners to replace their vehicles than to develop new customers. >> toyota says the car maker wants to stimulate the overall japanese car market with his firm's new model. people who take medicine around the world could soon be popping pills made by a japanese chemical firm. executives at mitsubishi chemical holdings are expanding their medical concern with a new acquisition. company representatives announced they've signed a $650 million contract with a u.s. investment firm.
they've agreed to buy all the shares of medical capsule maker qualicaps. qualicaps based in nara, japan with sales and production bases also in the united states and europe. the country boasts more than a 20% share in the global medical capsule market. mitsubishi chemical representatives said the medical capsule business has a potential for stable growth. they added the company will continue to expand in the medical and health sectors. that's the latest in business. here's a recap of market figures. ♪ ♪
japan's liberal democratic party leader shinzo abe will form his new government today. abe led his party to a landslide victory in the recent general election. a special diet session will be convened on wednesday afternoon to choose the successor to outgoing prime minister yoshihiko noda. abe will be elected prime minister by voting in the upper and lower houses. he will be the first japanese prime minister in 64 years to be given a second chance. abe was prime minister for one year until he resigned in september 2007. abe plans to immediately start forming his cabinet. he'll hold a news conference in the evening to lay out his governme's vions. the new government is not short on challenges. one urgent task is restoring the country's economy. japan's debt is projected to reach $12.8 trillion by next march.
the ratio to the country's gross domestic product is 226%, the worst among developed nations. abe has pledged to halve the fiscal deficit by march 2016. the new government intends to finance its spending without borrowing by fiscal 2020. they hope to achieve the goal by cutting expenses. this would involve squeezing social security costs. all eyes are on whether the government will cut pension payments. japan also plans to double consumption tax to 10% by october 2015. but the international monetary fund says a minimum of 15% is needed for full fiscal rehabilitation. the new government says it will first tackle economic recovery and plans to draft an extra budget for the current fiscal year. populous, prosperous, pushing ahead. china's rise brought it wealth, power, and problems. an income gap divides its people. pollution threatens their health. and disputes at sea strains
relations with its neighbors. find out the challenges china faces, on "newsline." traffic in china is said to be more of a free-for-all than an orderly procession. motorists often ignore other motorists and pedestrians too, and the pedestrians also play fast and loose with the rules. one result, lots of accidents. so authorities are taking action. nhk world's takafumi terui has the report. >> reporter: red lights don't stop these pedestrians. and crossings, who needs them? as for drivers, when they change lanes, they barely give a thought to other motorists. not a day goes by in chinese cities without a traffic accident. >> translator: when i am in a hurry, i cross streets even
against red lights if there are no cars. >> translator: in china we have only one way to cross. if we all go at once, the green light is as good as on. >> translator: pedestrians have bad manners, but cyclists are the worst. they go too fast. >> reporter: chinese police conducted a survey of 10,000 people. they released their findings in november. almost 7 out of 10 people say they've ignored traffic lights. what did they do when people on foot tried to use a crosswalk without a signal? fewer than 30% of respondents say they would give the right of way and stop to allow pedestrians to cross. almost 40% say pedestrians should wait until the car has passed.
as more people become better off, car ownership is soaring. chinese now own 230 million vehicles. compared to just five years ago, that's an increase of 50%. authorities have started to encourage safer road habits. on december 2nd they launched traffic safety day. it's an annual event. and this year they conducted a variety of activities across the country. but changing people's habits isn't easy. to illustrate the problem, recently a woman was being taken to a hospital in an ambulance after getting badly injured in a traffic accident. it was around this time of the day, and the roads were jammed as they are now. and the cars in front refused to move out of the way.
chinese law states drivers must give way to emergency vehicles on duty, but it took 40 minutes to get the patient to hospital just three kilometers away. she didn't make it. a doctor in the ambulance wrote in her blog that the situation was deplorable. many responded. one person said people can save lives by giving way to ambulances. another expressed disappointment in people's coldness. an expert says now is the time to change drivers' behavior. >> change the traffic regulation and more education to change the behavior of a driver by a
combination of countermeasures together to change the situation. >> reporter: with so many cars on the road, campaigns to increase safety are bound to land. but gradually safety-conscious people are making inroads. takafumi terui, nhk world, beijing. iran will conduct naval drills for six days in the strait of hormuz in the persian gulf. the exercise is apparently meant to showcase its military strength in the world's vital oil and gas shipping route. iran's naval commander told reporters the drills will begin on friday. they'll involve areas across the strait of hormuz and northern parts of the indian ocean. the commander said the drill will test the navy's missile systems, combat ships and submarines, and iranian-made spy drones. he said the exercises are
intended to counter threats from enemy countries. iran carried out similar drills last december and january. officials have said that iran might block the strait. this prompted the u.s. to send a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the area. analysts say iran will conduct the drills again to keep western countries and the gulf nations in check. the leaders of the six arab gulf states have beeniscuing their defee strategies they agreed to bringheir military forces under a single authority. they also highlighted their concerns about neighbors iran and syria. the gulf cooperation council held a summit meeting in the bahraini capital manama. the leaders said they'll launch a joint military command and try to strengthen regional cooperation. >> translator: we agreed to set up a unified military command. and focus our defense capacities.
to counter external threats. >> many gulf states are ruled by sunni muslims, but shias are staging anti-government campaigns in bahrain and saudi arabia. governments in the region say shia-dominated iran is instigating the protests. the council members also said they would push for the resignation of syrian president bashar al assad, an ally of iran. officials in okinawa prefecture have requested the japanese government to scrutinize u.s. osprey flights. they say the military aircraft had over 300 safety violations in the first two months after deployment at the futenma air station. the officials sent their survey result results to the government on tuesday. according to their accounts, violations include 315 flights over schools, hospitals, and densely populated areas. the transport aircraft can function as both a helicopter and airplane.
on 74 occasions the aircraft was flying in helicopter mode, which is considered unstable. under the agreement with japan the u.s. military has agreed to follow safety rules and flight restrictions as much as possible. okinawa prefecture is urging the central government to carry out an independent inquiry and request the u.s. military to keep to the agreement. artists have tried since 1945 to make sense of the atomic bombings in japan. one of them, the manga comic artist keiji nakazawa has passed away. nakazawa died of lung cancer at 73. he survived hiroshima himself as a child, and he worked tirelessly to deliver a powerful message for world peace. nhk world's jun yotsumoto tells us more. >> reporter: the story of a boy orphaned when the u.s. dropped an atomic bb on hiroshima.
author keiji nakazawa was 6 when he lost his father and two siblings in the bombing. but he avoided the topic in his first manga mi. survivors were often shunned by society. nakazawa preferred to keep silent. but he changed deeply when his mother passed away in 1966. she was also a survivor. >> translator: when my mother was cremated, there were no pieces of bone left at all. that made me so angry i made up my mind not to avoid the atomic bomb. >> reporter: nakazawa began to create work inspired by the air bomb. bafet gan was the most famous selling more than 10 million copies worldwide in 20 languages. nakazawa's depictions of hiroshima shocked readers around the world.
nakazawa donated his original drawings in 2009 to the hiroshima peace memorial museum. and he became a staunch spokesman against nuclear weapons. nakazawa became more passionate when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. he plunged himself into a variety of activities to hand down his message. >> translator: i ask you to send a message to the world from hiroshima about the reality of atomic war. >> reporter: many people expressed sorrow over nakazawa's death, including a-bomb survivors. can pay tribute is to carry on his legacy to promote peace.
>> translator: he contributed in many ways to share hiroshima's message against nuclear weapons and for peace. >> reporter: japan has lost a key figure supporting global peace and nuclear disarmament. keiji nakazawa may be gone, but his voice continues to resonate amongst readers, both old and new. jun yotsumoto, nhk world, tokyo. a european porcelain painter has tried to merge two worlds. she's learning centuries-old japanese techniques and combining them with traditional austrian methods. the results so far have been eye-catching. >> reporter: theresa killen decorates porcelain in a japanese factory. it specializes in a style known as kitani ware, famous for its many colors and bold designs.
usually keller works out of augarten porcelain factory in vienna. it is europe's second oldest, founded in the early 18th century. keller is augaten's youngest master painter, but she's traveled to ishikawa prefecture, the home of kitani-style porcelain, to learn how it's painted. >> there are some differences, and it's very interesting to learn and to see and to get more inspiration. for working at home. >> reporter: keller's first stop is the workshop of the popular kitani-ware painter buz buzan fukushima. here, she can take a close look at his elaborate brushwork adorning the ceramics.
keller was surprised that even for fine lines kitani artists used brushes. the austrians use a kind of metallic pen. >> everything's brush. >> brush. many, many brush. >> also for the small -- >> also so. there brush. all brush. >> oh. >> next artist ayako minami showed keller how to use pigment the kitani way. the artist used special methods for the five primary colors like red, blue and yellow. for example, they mixed the pigment with metal or glass. after firing the color changes critically. this ds not happen with austrian pigments. >> and what is this color?
>> is it yellow? it is transforming during firing. >> in the kiln, we mix colors due to the chemical reaction. >> now keller gets down to work. after her basic design dries she coats it with pigment. the design is a tulip. popular in western porcelain. >> i will see the result after firing. so this is a little bit difficult to imagine. >> and into the kiln it goes. success. the tulip shows through and the pigment's new color embellishes the work. >> i think some techniques are very interesting, but we have to
change the whole style when i will do all of the things i will take to my home where i will practice at home. >> people in the industry will have to keep an eye on keller. she could start an era of porcelain painting featuring the best techniques of the east d west. thousands of people waiting to go home. tons of debris waiting for disposal. vast tracts of land waiting to be restored. overcoming the challenges of japan's 2011 disaster won't be easy, but step by step, people are moving forward. find out how on "the road ahead" every wednesday at 1:00 p.m. japan time, right here on "newsline." millions of people across japan are feeling extra cold
today. mai shoji from our weather desk tells us why. >> we have lots of below-freezing temperatures across much of northern japan. here in tokyo we're going to be experiencing the coldest day so far this season, and also toward the northwest heavy snow and blizzard conditions are going to be continuing due to the very tinsified winter pressure pattern. sakayu has been seeing two meters 50 centimeters already of white stuff piling up, and it looks like it's going to be continuing into the next 24 hours. the sea effect snow will bring about 340 centimeters to the already very tall snow amounts and also 50 centimeters here in niigata prefecture. and also gusts are very strong. 126 kilometers per hour. and that's going to be picking up those waves along the coastal regions, up to about six meters high, and of course the fresh snow piling up on top of what we already have is going to raise the risk of avalanche.
so lots of things happening here in japan and tokyo. we're looking at 7 for the high on our wednesday. seoul minus 6. you saw the coldest morning today at minus 13.8 degrees. but different world here in the tropics, staying in the 30s. manila at 32 degrees. and this is why the storm has intensified into a tropical storm. wukonk is now over the visayas as we speak moving toward the china sea by tomorrow. even though it will be moving away from land masses it will still be bringing gale-force hours -- next couple of days i should say, and also to the moisture surging in into the storm luzon, especially on the eastern coast will be brought about 118 millimeters of rainfall in the next 24 hours. so flooding, mudslides, and mudslides all going to be at very high risk across much of that philippines. we'll keep a very close eye on this for you. here across the americas, for your christmas day severe
outbreak is still in store across the gulf coast. this could be a deadly one due to the tornadic activities. we already have 14 reportsf tornadoes in the past 24 hours, and also hail have been reported too. this is going to be shifting toward the southeastern areas and toward the northeast. this is your boxing day outlook. toward the north, heavy snow will be piling up. and toward the west here another pacific system will be reaching. so the coastal heavy rain. and the sierras possibly will look at a total of 50 centimeters of additional snowfall. temperaturewise we're looking at los angeles 14 degrees, houston down to 8 from 25 yesterday. please do bundle up. oklahoma city at minus 4 degrees. just -- that's well below your average. let's now head toward the european continent. and talk about the very windy conditions in northeastern germany. we have been seeing wet and unstable conditions there. the temperatures are very cold, too. berlin at 9 degrees.
but take a look at what people in berlin did yesterday, on tuesday. members of berlin's swimming club, the berlin fields, took a traditional christmas swim in a frozen lake on tuesday. they're also known as ice swimmers because temperatures are below freezing. the club was founded in 1979 and has 16 members. after the swim everyone said it's just great. and on that note i'll leave you know for your three-day outlook. ♪